After the disappointing midterm elections, grassroots Republicans are demanding change at every level. By now we’re all familiar with the battle taking place at the Republican National Committee (RNC). After a dreadful midterm performance for Republicans capped years of heavy losses for the party, Harmeet Dhillon is mounting a robust challenge against current Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel. The grassroots base is standing up and demanding change. But this isn’t just happening at the RNC, it’s also happening at the state and county party level.
Case in point: Cuyahoga County in Ohio.
Cuyahoga County is of particular interest because it is a blue county in what is now a very red state. It houses Ohio’s second-largest city, Cleveland, and largest minority population.
We all know how important Ohio is to national elections. If Republicans wish to dominate in future elections, they need to make sure Ohio stays red. That means not just being satisfied with “enough,” but taking a page out of the Democrat playbook and refusing to stop until the entire state can be put in the “win” column. See California for more on that Democrat strategy.
Current Cuyahoga County Republican Party chair Lisa Stickan could be called the Ronna McDaniel of the Buckeye State. During her tenure, the county party has seen a dramatic decline in its finances and has lost election after election. According to local sources, Stickan ran on a promise to grow the party, but instead the party has descended into disarray. A united front has emerged to demand Stickan leave her post in favor of a winning strategy.
Ohio businessman Lee Weingart has stepped up to challenge Stickan. He ran for his county’s executive position in 2022, losing, unsurprisingly, to the Democrat candidate. However, Weingart’s campaign to offer a clear, achievable plan for progress in areas that would particularly affect minority Ohioans became a hit in places like Cleveland. Weingart ended up outperforming fellow Republicans in 157 county districts, nearly all of which were majority black. One local GOP operative tells RedState the county party was virtually nonexistent in that effort, doing little to help Weingart’s momentum, and abandoning candidates in both Black and traditionally Republican areas.
The Republican Party of Cuyahoga County has seen a dramatic drop in contributions since Stickan took over as chair. According to Transparency USA, the party went from raising over a million dollars in the 2018 midterm cycle under the previous chair to raising only $330,000 in the 2022 cycle (with Stickan as chair). Over half of those donations were spent on payroll and office space, leaving little room for the party to do anything else. Several candidates have complained about the party’s lack of support and infrastructure.
Weingart says the party is sinking fast, and the most important result is that the party is losing in his county…consistently.
“The local Republican Party is failing.” Weingart told RedState. “The party base is shrinking. The party has no money. And most importantly, we are not winning elections. We need a chairman who can expand the party grassroots base, raise money, and win elections.”
Another problem area for the establishment in this Ohio county is that Stickan has alienated the “MAGA” wing of the party after attacking senate candidate J.D.Vance. She circulated a letter and became the face of a campaign to stop former President Trump from endorsing Vance. She even went to liberal media outlets like CNN and Politico to make her case. Trump endorsed Vance anyway, and the rest is history. However, that battle caused many local activists to question Stickan’s commitment to moving the party in a winning direction.
Why should this one county matter in the scheme of things?
Republican voters are tired of losing. We have watched insiders like Ronna McDaniel make promises, then live luxurious lifestyles off of donations from concerned voters, while shepherding the GOP in loss after loss after loss. We are no longer satisfied with “good enough,” as we are watching what the small ambitions of small people have cost our families and our communities over the last few years.
This isn’t just about one fight for one position. This sense of unrest is everywhere in the party, and if local GOP parties don’t start getting serious about being winners, it won’t matter much what happens in federal elections moving forward. The strategy to win must be brought to every corner of this nation.
In Cuyahoga County, under Stickan, every Republican candidate lost except for one (State Rep. Tom Patton). It was a bloodbath. The 2022 midterms was the worst showing for the Cuyahoga County GOP in over a decade. Why should a Republican chair keep her position if these are the results?
Why should Ronna McDaniel keep her chair if she is just going to continue to preside over losses?
We can’t just focus on red areas. Republicans must remain competitive in blue areas. They cannot become so hopelessly blue that they begin to seep into the surrounding areas. Many states are just one or two big blue counties away from becoming Illinois, where the Chicago area is so blue it cancels out Republican voters in the rest of the state. The same could be said for California, where geographically much of the state runs red, but those voters are overwhelmed by city centers like Los Angeles and San Francisco.
It’s time to take this seriously, and Cuyahoga Republicans seem to be of the same opinion. Over 100 members of the party there have recently signed a petition demanding for a vote to vacate the chair and to have a new election.
Change is contagious.
At some point, the party of accountability and personal responsibility cannot continue to reward failure. We judge by results, and many Republican leaders have failed to do the one thing they were hired to do: win elections. Activists are putting their names and livelihoods on the line to fight for conservative principles. The last thing that they need is a GOP that is an incompetent and irrelevant social club.
The backbone of the Republican Party is demanding change. We will see if the party listens.